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Sustainable nautical tourism

The Coronavirus pandemic is one of the reasons why numerous people choose to spend their summer holidays on a cruise ship or charter a private yacht. Nowadays, tourists prefer to visit more isolated places, where only yachts have access, but also in controlled conditions such as cruise ships.

Cruising is an industry that offers many jobs all over the world and in Greece as well. In 2021, in Europe, the cruise industry employed 315.000 people, while 15.100 of these positions were filled in Greece.

Greece is a destination that is chosen every year by foreign cruising companies and according to the Hellenic Ports Association, 4.614 cruise ships arrived in Greece, in 2022. In 2021 the number of cruise ships recorded was less than half of last year’s number. In the same year, the tourism sector in Greece contributed 17,6 billion euros to the national economy. Of the €17,6 billion, €1,1 billion came from cruise ship activity, in contrast to 2019 when the economic benefit was €957 million.

At the meeting held at the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) in 2022, it was announced that Greece is one of the most popular yachting destinations in the world with more than 170.000 yachts of all sizes ready for use. Of the 170.000 vessels available for charter, 6.600 are for professional use and this number is expected to increase by 200-300 each year.

Given the foregoing, it is plausible to consider the magnitude of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption on cruise ships and private yachts.

The shipping sector emits around 2.9% of global carbon dioxide emissions or just over one billion tons of CO² per year. The share of maritime transport in total European CO² emissions is 3-4%. Regarding the year 2019, container ships accounted for the largest share of total emissions, with 30%, bulk carriers around 12%, while cargo and private car/passenger ships together accounted for 16% (21 million tons of CO² emissions), of emissions.

Cruise ships emit on average more carbon dioxide per year than any other type of ship.

It has been found that cruise ships emit more carbon dioxide on average per year than any other type of ship, due to their facilities, like air conditioning, heated pools, and other hotel facilities.

There is not much international research on how damaging a cruise ship or yacht trip is, but according to research conducted by FOE (Friend of the Earth), a person who chooses to spend his holidays on a typical cruise ship, from Seattle to Alaska (7-day trip), emits about 421,43 kilograms of CO² per day. Furthermore, according to the International Council for Transport (ICCT), in their Global Shipping Emissions Inventory (2013-2015), they concluded that the world's largest and most efficient cruise ships emit around 250 grams of CO²/per passenger kilometer. In contrast, the average carbon intensity of the aircraft industry ranges from around 10 grams of CO²/per passenger-kilometer to 130 grams of CO²/per passenger-kilometer.

Due to the increase in cruise numbers and new international laws to mitigate climate change, the World Cruise Organization (CLIA) has created the "net zero" program for decarbonization by 2050 at the latest and foresees a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and a 70% reduction by 2040.

Let’s have a look at the actions that can be taken to achieve the above objective.

1. Coastal Energy Support-Cold Ironing. When a cruise ship is at anchor it uses its auxiliary engines to support certain essential functions. Throughout this time SOx, NOx, CO2, and other particulates are produced. To eliminate these emissions, it is possible to use energy from shore-based energy support facilities in ports. It is a technologically complicated process, both for ports and cruise ships, but it will bring many positives and will be a much greener technology if this energy comes from renewables. As reported in a study (Arduino et al., 2011), in 10 hours of stopping a cruise ship, CO² emissions are reduced from 72,2 to 50,1 tons, nitrous oxide from 1,47 to 0,04 tons, sulfur oxide from 1,23 to 0,04 tons.

2. Alternative fuels. By using LNG, a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved. However, there are other fuels that offer either carbon neutral (fuels that are carbon-based but neither contribute nor reduce carbon in the atmosphere) or zero carbon (fuels that do not emit carbon and help reduce it from the atmosphere) as a final product released into the atmosphere. For example, biofuels and methane are among the neutral-carbon fuels. Hydrogen and ammonia, which could be used as alternative fuels for cruise ships, are zero-carbon fuels. For existing cruise ships there is the issue of modifying and upgrading the engines to the use of new alternative fuels and calculating the corresponding costs.

3. Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS)-Scrubbers. These systems are used to remove particulates and harmful components (SOx and NOx) from the exhaust gases produced during the combustion process and to control air pollution. EGCS have significantly reduced exhaust emissions, particularly for mega-ships by 75%.

Under existing and future legislation, companies in the cruise industry and private yachts will have to record and monitor their emissions and energy consumption.

Greece relies on nautical tourism for its economic development. Every year there is an increase in the number of tourists choosing cruise and yacht holidays, which results in a great impact on the environment and the emissions in the atmosphere. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), has already created a strategy to reduce greenhouse gases from international shipping, including cruises. In addition to this strategy, the EU has its own legislation to reduce greenhouse gas intensity from marine fuels by 2025. For example, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Directive highlights the need to act on shipping emissions. Based on the above for the legislation already in place and for those to follow, all cruise companies and private yacht operators need to have a system for recording and monitoring their emissions and energy consumption.

At E-On Integration, we provide the RIBIA GHG cloud platform, which enables everyone to record, calculate and publish their carbon footprint and create mitigation actions to achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


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